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Title:Wildfire smoke is hitting the East Coast. How bad is it for your health?
Date:6/2/2023 6:00:00 AM

Dark plumes of smoke from wildfires scorching Nova Scotia are drifting down the northeast corridor, leaving behind a pungent aroma and prompting health authorities to issue air-quality warnings as far east as New Jersey, southeast Pennsylvania and parts of Massachusetts.

The resulting hazy skies have contributed to spectacular sunsets - such as the “Manhattanhenge” that wowed New Yorkers on Tuesday evening. But the fires have damaged more than 200 homes in Nova Scotia and forced more than 16,000 people to flee. They have also fouled the air for millions on the East Coast, as has a fire burning in New Jersey, which has contributed to Washington D.C.’s smoky skies.

It took only one day for the smoke from the Nova Scotia fire, which started on Sunday, to travel to Boston roughly 500 kilometers away, according to Hiren Jethva, a senior research scientist at Morgan State University affiliated with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Smoke particles can be blown across vast distances, according to Francesca Dominici, a professor of Biostatistics, Population and Data Science at Harvard’s school of public health.

“The wildfire smoke can travel from the West Coast to the East Coast. And now we’re seeing also wildfire smoke coming from Canada back to the U.S., too,” she said.

Here’s what you need to know about the health effects of wildfire smoke and how to protect yourself on days with poor air quality.

Wildfire smoke contains fine particulates, commonly known as PM2.5, that are often unseen components of smoke and soot.

These fine particles come directly from wildfire smoke, and tend to be “more toxic than other sources of PM2.5” because wildfires burn everything, Dominici said. This includes various household materials, such polyvinyl piping and batteries, that produce toxic emissions when combusted.

The particulates are so small that they can be inhaled through your lungs and enter the bloodstream. Exposure can trigger...

Organization:Washington Post - Climate and Environment
Date Added:6/2/2023 6:38:39 AM